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Monday October 23, 2006

Subject: Letter from England

Science in the UK <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/6075020.stm>  In reality, the UK government has avoided spending money on science (and university salary increases) by recruiting science lecturers abroad and giving them extremely heavy teaching loads. A new English PhD has had 3-4 years of university coursework in their subject and has done three years of research. This means they are extremely specialised on their research topic and have not had the 2-4 years of PhD-level coursework that most foreign PhDs bring with them. One consequence is that American universities treat an English PhD as basically an advanced masters, having found most new English PhDs unqualified to teach at university level in their field. (This is also frequently the case in the UK, reflecting the traditional English academic approach.) It does produce a lot of research output for minimal investment.

If you're not part of the solution; you're part of the problem. The UK Government decides to poke the stick into the anthill again to see if it will become more productive. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6075980.stm>  <http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardianpolitics/story/0,,1928813,00.html>  <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/10/23/ nhs23.xml>  <http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/health_medical/article1919322.ece

Massive NHS pay cut
/news/news.html? in_article_id=411581&in_page_id=1770&ct=5>

Smokers must quit if they want surgery. <http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/health_medical/article1919323.ece

Encouraging lynch mobs... <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/6076074.stm>  <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2417145,00.html

Explains the abundant willy peter wounds on civilians that Palestinian hospitals have been treating. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,,1929007,00.html>

Changing the rules of the game, by force if necessary. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardianpolitics/story/0,,1928771,00.html>  <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2417029,00.html> <http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article1919333.ece

Reading the Riot Act <http://www.guardian.co.uk/antiwar/story/0,,1928944,00.html

London Times reports on US politics and events <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2417037,00.html>  <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2417143,00.html>  <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2416871,00.html>  The flap about that letter is not about its effectiveness, but rather that the attempt was made. It was FUD.

Yobs <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2417126,00.html>  <http://society.guardian.co.uk/youthjustice/story/0,,1928835,00.html>  Very typical here. See also the Telegraph site: <www.telegraph.co.uk>. 

University admissions based on class <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2416856,00.html>  Actually it makes some sense, except that you have to follow through with the appropriate interventions and staffing levels. The potential growth is so much greater than the skills and talent that students have on entry to university that the investment does make sense for almost anybody with an IQ high enough to allow them to live independently. But, first, you have to motivate students and maintain the motivation, and second, you have to insist on students continuously working at the edge of their current ability. Given that most working class students are risk-averse and satisfied with their current performance, it's very hard to do, and requires teaching skills and expertise that are rare at any level.

On virtual laboratories... In my field, a virtual lab isn't usually enough. Biological, ecological, and neural systems are *complex*, and much of their behaviour is beyond what a computer simulation can produce. You have to get your hands dirty to understand that.

Local churches nominated as world heritage sites. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/wear/content/articles/2006/10/10/ wearmouth_jarrow_feature.shtml>  I went to Saint Peter, Monkwearmouth, until we bought our house. The staff religious fellowship meets there.

-- Harry Erwin, PhD, Program Leader, MSc Information Systems Security, University of Sunderland. <http://scat-he-g4.sunderland.ac.uk/~harryerw> Weblog at: <http://scat-he-g4.sunderland.ac.uk/~harryerw/blog/index.php>


Subject: Some insight into the true motivations of the 'Net Neutrality' crowd

This post isn't about Net Neutrality, but Nick Carr's analysis of Lessig is pretty revealing, IMHO:



Subject: Democracy and Faith in Institutions  

Here's what bugs me: It isn't just Iraq that's in a mess. Democracy itself, as an institution has suffered some serious body blows in the last 5 years, and that worries me more than even terrorists.

Social institutions only work if people believe in them. And what we've seen over the last 5 years is an object lesson in the impotence and failures of democracy.

I'm not an "I-told-you-so"-er, but I've said along that you can't just wave your arms and say "Domini, Domini, Domini, you're all living in a democracy now." It takes many years to build up the kind of faith that is required for these things to work. America didn't just become a democracy on the day that the Constitution was signed - we had over 200 years of colonial governmental traditions to draw upon and believe in. The basic problem with Iraq is they didn't have the blessings we do. (yes, I'm told Iraq had been a democracy in the past, but not for a very long time.)

For one thing, you need a loyal opposition. You need to believe in your heart of hearts that the other side, the people you despise, will at least have the courtesy to talk things out, and not just storm the parliament building with guns when they don't get their way. Otherwise, what's the point of even participating? Why not just get your own guns and storm the building first before they get there?

You need to believe that the game is fair - that people aren't rigging the system, gerrymandering you into irrelevance or stealing your vote.

You need to believe that the people you elect are more than just incompetent, selfish boobs interested solely in lining their own pockets. That you have a real choice, not just a contrived and trivial one between lesser evil and mediocre evil.

Instead, we've seen - both at home and abroad - a cascade of examples that seem almost *designed* to rob people of their faith. To dispirit and destroy their belief that they truly have the power to change things.

Politics is an area where success breeds success, and failure breeds failure. What I worry about is whether other potential proto-democracies are going to look at the Iraq example and maybe think twice about this whole democracy thing. And I worry that the people here will also get dispirited, although not for quite the same reasons.

We (the Enlightenment and its descendants) took power away from the oligarchs because we showed that our way *worked* - and worked better. The only way the oligarchs can ever get their power back is to somehow demonstrate that it doesn't work so well after all. And the way to do this is to take the tool that *we* created and misuse it.

You see, like the free market, democracy is not a natural law - it is a machine, constructed by humans, to solve a certain set of problems. It is no more a natural law than Robert's Rules of Order. But that machine only works if you give it the correct environment - it's source of power is emotional investment of the citizenry within in, an investment that they will only give so long as they perceive it to be capable of solving their problems.

Thus, the way to destroy democracy and its institutions is to attempt to apply them in contexts in which they will surely fail. Contexts like Iraq.

-- Talin

You have reasoned your way to the anti-Jacobin position... As did Burke among others. Aristotle thought government styles were cyclical and inevitably so. Marx believed in the march of history until the end of history. I think there is more evidence for Aristotle.


Subject: New Space Policy 

Is it just me, or does Bush's new space policy remind me of "Speak loudly and carry a small stick?"

Maybe I am completely misunderstanding here (not surprising, happens all the time), but it seems to me that if you're going to risk antagonizing half the planet (and half your own populace as well) by asserting some kind of 'territorial right' over low orbit, one would think that you at least would want to have in hand the technical and military capability to back it up *before* you made such an announcement...? Otherwise it's just dangerous posturing IMHO, and more likely to spur an arms race than anything productive.

And to those who claim that a space arms race will have a side benefit of getting human access to space: I don't buy it. Space weapons don't really *need* an on-orbit infrastructure, and don't provide a strong incentive to develop one - far cheaper to just launch a replacement than to go up and fix it.

FWIW I would far rather put my money on Burt Rutan and John Carmack than "the standing army", even though they have a long way to go yet.

And a final bit of heresy, while I am on my soapbox: while I still remain a hard-core fan of space entrepeneurship, I'm less concerned about space than I used to be -- sure, in the long run it's absolutely vital, but in the short run, Moore's law will give us far greater and quicker access to an increasingly complex and rich universe than NASA will. This planet is going to expand inward a lot sooner than it expands outward, for the simple reason that, as you stated long ago, 'iron is expensive and silicon is cheap'.

-- Talin

There's no one else racing in the space arms race. It's too expensive. But without space assets we don't have much military effectiveness. I doubt any of the Navy officers know how to navigate with a sextant now, and the radio beacons are long turned off.

We still need Prizes and X-Programs. We don't need NASA.


Subject: The real climate change catastrophe 


The real climate change catastrophe CSR must recognize how misguided energy policies will affect the world’s poor By Paul Driessen Saturday, October 21, 2006

Every snowstorm, hurricane, deluge or drought generates headlines, horror movies and television specials, demanding action to avoid imminent climate catastrophe. Skeptics are pilloried, labeled “climate criminals,” and threatened with “Nuremberg-style war crimes trials.”

Britain’s Royal Society has demanded that ExxonMobil stop funding researchers who say global warming is primarily the result of natural forces. Meanwhile, scientist James Hansen received $250,000 from Teresa Heinz-Kerry for insisting that warming is due to humans, and “socially responsible” investor services refuse to list or recommend corporations they deem insufficiently sensitive on the subject. <snip>

The real catastrophe is that we are already using overwrought claims about a climate cataclysm to justify depriving Earth’s most impoverished citizens of electricity and other modern technologies that would make their lives infinitely better.

Real ethics and social responsibility would weigh these costs and benefits, foster robust debate about every aspect of climate change, ensure continued technological advancement, and give a seat at the decision table to the real stakeholders: not climate alarmists – but those who have to live with the consequences of decisions that affect their access to energy, health, hope, opportunity and prosperity.

(The excised bulk of the article is a good summary of arguments which have appeared here over the past few years.)


As my black friend told the Sierra Club back in 1962, "Just as soon as we got a seat at the table, you tell me the game's over?"








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Tuesday,  October 24, 2006

Subject: Something bound to shock you

something Harry Erwin seems to have missed


Regards, Bas


at Runnymede

Dr. Pournelle:

This story was printed in a magazine many years ago. One may hope it's not true:

An American couple, on a tour of England, had arrived at Runnymede. The tour guide explained that this was the place where the barons had forced King John to sign the Magna Carta, and then explained the significance of the great document.

The wife asked, "And when did this happen?"

The guide replied, "Twelve fifteen."

The husband glanced at his watch and said, "Damn! We missed it!"


Most likely he was making a joke? But alas...


From another conference:

TIMES: New drug decisive against age-related macular degeneration

> At £1,000 a treatment, it will raise serious funding
> questions for the NHS if recommended for use by the
> National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE),
> which is conducting an appraisal. Costs for treating all newly
> diagnosed cases to a course of monthly injections - the
> regime used in the trial - are put at £400 million.

The UK has a *better* use for money than simply appropriating the UKP 400 million required? What in the world might that use be???? In the United States the incremental use of GDP is to build new casinos in the path of the next Hurricane Katrina.



THE TIMES http://www.timesonline.co.uk/TGD/picture/0,,348513,00.jpg 


The Times

October 05, 2006

Drug lifts blindness threat for thousands

By Nigel Hawkes, Health Editor


A CONDITION that causes thousands of Britons to go blind every year can be halted and even reversed with a monthly injection.

Trials into a treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is diagnosed in more than 20,000 elderly people a year and is the commonest cause of blindness, have shown dramatic results for almost all who use it.

Patients given Lucentis did not only have the gradual deterioration of their sight halted, but even regained vision lost to the disease. For decades, patients with the condition, which leaves 10 per cent of sufferers blind, have been told there is little or nothing that can be done to slow the disease, let alone reverse it.

But in a new trial Lucentis reversed sight damage in more than a third of participants with "wet" AMD, the most damaging form of the disease. It also prevented further loss of vision in almost all who were treated with it.

About 24,000 patients a year have wet AMD diagnosed. It is responsible for 90 per cent of cases where people lose their sight entirely: loss of vision is caused by the growth of new blood vessels behind the retina, which cause bleeding and scarring.

Lucentis, developed by the Californian company Genentech, does not yet have a British licence. At £1,000 a treatment, it will raise serious funding questions for the NHS if recommended for use by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which is conducting an appraisal. Costs for treating all newly diagnosed cases to a course of monthly injections - the regime used in the trial - are put at £400 million.

Steve Winyard, head of campaigns at the Royal National Institute of the Blind, said that the results were very exciting. "These results show that the drug is just as good as we thought it was going to be. About 30 per cent of these patients got a significant gain in sight, which shows that the drug also offers improvements as well as preventing sight loss."

John Blake, 75, one of the few patients in Britain to have been treated with Lucentis, said that the drug had improved his sight sufficiently for him to be able to take up golf again. "Everything had gone, 80 per cent of my life had gone", he said. "I couldn't drive or watch TV," he said. "Within three days my sight had improved. It cost me nearly £5,000, but I'm very pleased."

The two trials published today in The New England Journal of Medicine compared Lucentis with a placebo and Visudyne, the only treatment hitherto available on the NHS. In the placebo-controlled trial, 716 US patients were randomly given Lucentis at two dose levels, or a placebo. Over two years, a third of patients given the higher dose of Lucentis gained in visual acuity, compared with only 4 per cent given the placebo.<snip>



You haven't been to the UK lately. How about homes with yards fit for families?

How about enough prison cells to make Britain's streets safe(er)?

Thank you



Makes me proud to be a Texan. Sensible folks, those working-class people in Burleson, TX.



Updated: 4:46 p.m. CT Oct 13, 2006

BURLESON, Texas - Youngsters in a suburban Fort Worth school district are being taught not to sit there like good boys and girls with their hands folded if a gunman invades the classroom, but to rush him and hit him with everything they've got - books, pencils, legs and arms.

"Getting under desks and praying for rescue from professionals is not a recipe for success," said Robin Browne, a major in the British Army reserve and an instructor for Response Options, the company providing the training to the Burleson schools.

That kind of fight-back advice is all but unheard of among schools, and some fear it will get children killed.



Subject: Celestial navigation and the New Navy

Dr. Pournelle,

It's funny you should mention that bit about military space assets, since I was just in the mood to write to the Naval Institute about "why Johnny can't take a star sight." By early '03, a year before I graduated from Annapolis, the school had decided to phase out celestial navigation training, and to the best of my knowledge has done so. Perhaps it was because the training films contained racist depictions of the Japanese, but more likely this was a policy shift with the rest of the military. The only Navy officers from that institution who are proficient in practical celestial navigation learned it through the sailing team, which still does the Newport to Bermuda race every other year. I doubt they've installed ring laser gyros on those boats, but I may have underestimated the generosity of our wealthier alumni.

It was interesting to observe the way the department (along with the institution it serves) rather gleefully changed its focus to "modern!" electronic and satellite technology; while the move made some students very happy, since all one has to do is read off latitude and longitude and mark it on a chart, it makes me suspicious of the motives involved. People in charge seem to forget that without access to the GPS constellation, even a million-dollar inertial navigation system can get you lost. What's more, almost all of the periscopic sextants in my aircraft type were taken out a few years ago. You're right: celestial just isn't taught, not in maritime patrol aviation or more importantly in the wet Navy. If Buzz Aldrin and Rod Blaine can do it, we should be able to.

And while we may never lose enough navigation satellites to endanger American military assets, equipment does break down and signals can be jammed. In which case I'd rather not just 'guess' which way Diego Garcia is supposed to be, since that line of thinking often ends with a week in a life raft rather than a cold beer at the O-club.

A Navy pilot

The question remains: if GPS goes, how do we navigate? Protecting space assets, and possessing a sortie capability for replacing them fast, seems to me a major national objective and national interest. I am unsure that our masters understand this.


"He told us in Africa they work for a bowl of soup a day - that in Colombia we workers made too many demands."


-- Roland Dobbins

The joys of globalization.


Subject: The ghost of Patton on the War On Terror

Politically incorrect and factually true. NOT for the faint of heart or easily offended.



It is certainly not PC...




This week:


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Wednesday, October 25. 2006

Subject: bbc admits bias

I'm probably not the first to send this, but:


Kevin Bealer


Subject: Presentation on Global Warming


-- Harry Erwin, PhD



CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


This week:


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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Dr Pournelle

Fred Reed <fredoneverything.net <http://www.fredoneverything.net>
 http://www.fredoneverything.net/IsraeliFuture.shtml  >
 may have gone around the mental bend, but he does pose an interesting question: Can Israel last? Short answer: No. Long answer: 4 million Israelis are surrounded by 60 million Arabs. Eventually the Arabs will figure out the math. When they do, Israel dies. It appears that the Arabs have found a path to a solution. Open-terrain, mechanized combat is the forte of the IDF. But two dozen half-trained street fighters with AK-47s and IEDs are a match for a squad of Israeli soldiers. (I have never understood why the Israelis allowed the formation of an autonomous 'Palestinian' state that borders on Israel. It is nothing but a breeding ground for terrorists . . .er, excuse me, 'non-state combatants.' )

Respectfully h lynn keith

 PS What became of the kidnapped soldiers for whose freedom Israel went to war?

This is a more complex question than it appears to be. It also requires examining some of the premises from which Fred operates.

His first premise is that the Israelis will not and cannot treat the Palestinians (and any other enemies) as the Israelites, on orders from Yahweh, treated the Amelikites:

1 Samuel 15:2-3 - Thus says the Lord of hosts,.. (3) Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camels and donkey!

You may recall that Saul didn't follow those orders.

And there was a sore war against the Amelikites all the days of Saul’s reign. And Samuel said unto Saul, “Go and smite the Ameli-kites and destroy all that they have including every ox, sheep, camel, and ass. But Saul spared the King and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and the lambs and all that was good. And Samuel came to Saul and said, “The Lord anointed thee King over Israel and the Lord sent thee on a journey. But because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, He hath also rejected thee from being King.” Now the spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord terrified him.

Another premise (I quote from Fred):

Even now, neither the Israeli nor the US military is convincingly dominant. The American forces are enormous but designed for wars they are not going to fight. Carrier task forces, armored divisions, and nuclear submarines would excel against the Imperial Japanese Navy or the Red Army in the Fulda Gap. They lose to ragtag guerrillas. The ragtag guerrillas have noticed this. America hasn’t won a war since 1945.

But is this true? In 1972 the United States had won the war in Viet Nam. In 1975 the South Vietnamese lost to an invasion from the North because the United States withdrew its support; but it was an invasion from the north. South Viet Nam was not lost to "asymmetrical warfare" or guerrilla actions or insurgency. It was lost to an invasion from the North by an army of 150,000 men and a great number of tanks. The invasion was no stronger or better led or better organized than the failed effort of 1972 -- indeed, it had fewer veterans and worse equipment -- but this time the US did not support  the Army of the Republic of Viet Nam with air power, and the Congress of the United States sent its South Vietnamese allies 20 cartridges and 2 hand grenades per man. Bereft of support from the US, Saigon accordingly fell to the Soviet supported and supplied armored corps of the North: proving that military conquest of conventional forces works quite well when there is no opposition.

Moreover the ruthless occupation of the South by the North worked quite well. Apparently counter insurgency works fine if applied by communists against those with Western scruples.

As to losing to ragtag guerrillas, what is it that is lost? If the United States were to apply to Baghdad the tactics that Pol Pot applied in Cambodia, or North Viet Nam applied to South Viet Nam after 1975, what might the result be? Of course we will not do that. We are horrified by pranks that might have been seen in the basements of Charlie Company at West Point during Beast Barracks in the Summer of 1954. But it is still wrong to say we have not won a war since 1945, or that we cannot win one now.

All that said, there is some logic in Fred's column. And then what?


Subject: US Population Density Map 

Dr. Pournelle:

I noticed this image of the density of US population:
/NewImages/images.php3?img_id=17439  ...

and this text accompanying it: "The population of the United States reached 300 million on October 17, 2006, said the U.S. Census Bureau.

 With one birth every 7 seconds, a death every 13 seconds, and a migrant entering the country every 31 seconds, the United States' population is growing at a rate of one person every 11 seconds. "

Regards, Rick Hellewell


Subject:  Bias at the BBC

Dear Dr Pournelle,

With reference to Bas's post of June 24th, here is the BBC's own view on the matter:


Bias at the BBC?

By Helen Boaden

"..... According to the Mail on Sunday, and other recent press reports, we have admitted that we are an organisation of trendy, left-leaning liberals who are anti-American, biased against Christianity, in favour of multiculturalism, and staffed by people who wouldn't know an unbiased fact if it hit them on the head.

The Mail on Sunday based its story on a leak from what it called a "secret" meeting of BBC executives and governors, and claims that it was our former political editor, Andrew Marr himself, who confessed to the liberal bias of the organisation. His take was reinforced by Jeff Randall, who until recently was our business editor. "If they say it, then it must be true" was the thrust of the story.

Well I was one of the people who was at the "secret" meeting. and I have to say the reality was somewhat different to the way the press are reporting it ....."

And so on.

Notwithstanding legitimate claims of bias against the BBC, I would note that the Daily Mail is hardly blameless of sensationalist reporting and its tone could best be described as strident.

Me? I seem to spend more and more time watching Fox News ...

Cheers, Simon Woodworth.


Jerry, the North Viet Nam invasion you mention wasn't in 1973, but 1972. I know, because I was there and I left the service in January 1973.

-- Joe Zeff

True enough and thanks. Somehow I have managed to get that date confused in my head, and I am not sure why. In 1972 ARVN with US help defeated an invasion of 150,000 and a full corps of armor; the North lost 100,000 in killed, wounded, and captured. This is victory on a grand scale. US casualties for the year 1972 were under a thousand. There is absolutely no reason to suppose that had the US given ARVN the same support in 1975 that invasion would not have met the same fate, or worse. The USSR stood by its allies. The Congress of the United States would not do so. The US wasn't defeated. We simply withdrew.


Subject: Opinionjournal -- Interesting opinions 


Interesting opinions from Opinionjournal.com's Best of the Web Today (Ed. James Taranto) for Wednesday October 25th: http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110009148 

Quoting other reports/web reports in an item titled "The View From Iraq" with citations as noted:

"An unnamed American (Sergeant) in Iraq"

<snip of lead-in describing situation as the author sees it)>"

In Germany after World War II, we controlled our sector with approximately 500,000 troops, directly administering the area for 10 years while we rebuilt the country and rebuilt the social and political infrastructure needed to run it. In Iraq, we've got one-third that number of troops dealing with three times the population on a much faster timetable, and we're attempting to unify three distinct ethnic groups with no national interest and at least three outside influences (Saudi Arabian Wahhabists, Iranian mullahs and Syrian Baathists) each eagerly funding various groups in an attempt to see us fail. And we are.

"If we continue on as is in Iraq, we will leave here (sooner or later) with a fractured state, a Rwanda-waiting-to-happen. "Stay the course" and refusing to admit that we're screwing things up is already killing a lot of people needlessly. Following through with such inane nonstrategy is going to be the death knell for hundreds of thousands of Sunnis.

"We need to backtrack. We need to publicly admit we're backtracking. This is the opening battle of the ideological struggle of the 21st century. We cannot afford to lose it because of political inconveniences. Reassert direct administration, put 400,000 to 500,000 American troops on the ground, disband most of the current Iraqi police and retrain and reindoctrinate the Iraqi army until it becomes a military that's fighting for a nation, not simply some sect or faction. "<snip>

Reader Russ Daniel:

<snip>"...terrorists cause chaos in Iraq with a goal of making it appear to Americans that our military is wasting time, lives and effort over there. The mirror of that result comes when Democrats intentionally disrupt American efforts by portraying our soldiers as criminals. Don't they realize that Iraqis will see these comments and will ultimately come to believe that they are wasting time, lives and effort by cooperating with us?"

Reader Chris Thier:

<snip of several good points leading to this conclusion>"It's always a mistake to see the world as it is today and mistakenly compare it with the world as it was on a day in the past. It's harder to do, but infinitely more useful, to try to compare today's situation with that in which we'd find ourselves if we had done nothing."

We would be better off had we done nothing in Iraq if we simply cut and run now. Whether something can be retrieved or achieved now, and what it would cost to make this worth while, is what ought to be debated. It is possible that simply getting out -- cut our losses -- is the best course of action, but it is not entirely obvious that this is true; it certainly need debate and discussion. As does the cost of actual victory.

Can there be an Iraqi National Army? It would be called The Republican Guard, and that would be its mission.

Or is partition the best answer? These are all matters for debate. "Stay the course" doesnt mean a great deal. Stay what course?

I tried to persuade the Powers not to go into Iraq in the first place. Mesopotamia is not a good place for the west to meddle in. We have known that since the First Triumvirate and Caesarian times...


Subject: Some UK news stories

I spotted these this morning.

CIA tried to silence protests in the EU against rendition. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,1931693,00.html

NHS troubleshooter to quell hospital revolts. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/Society/health/news/0,,1931713,00.html

O-level exams may be coming back. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/Education/gcses/story/0,,1931697,00.html

Reverse PC in Australia <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/6086374.stm>  <http://news.independent.co.uk/world/australasia/article1930606.ece

 Putin in Russia <http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2421783,00.html

Global immigration database <http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/10/25/global_immigration_db/

-- Harry Erwin, PhD, Program Leader, MSc Information Systems Security, University of Sunderland.


From another conference:

> Grammar lessons vanished from public schools in the
> 1970s, supplanted by a more holistic view of
> English instruction.

This innovation did not work out nearly as well as us Boomers' invention of the female orgasm about the same time...


Or is it "we Boomers'"?????



Clauses and Commas Make a Comeback

SAT Helps Return Grammar to Class

By Daniel de Vise Washington Post Staff Writer Monday, October 23, 2006; A01

Mike Greiner teaches grammar to high school sophomores in half-hour lessons, inserted between Shakespeare and Italian sonnets. He is an old-school grammarian, one of a defiant few in the Washington region who believe in spending large blocks of class time teaching how sentences are built.

 For this he has earned the alliterative nickname "Grammar Greiner," along with a reputation as one of the tougher draws in the Westfield High School English department.

Or, as one student opined in a sonnet he wrote, "Mr. Greiner, I think you're torturing us."<snip>


From another conference


Having utterly failed to make any difference starting with high school students, it appears that the Gates Foundation (see sourcing for the information in the graphic contained in this article) is starting to beat the drums for trying to intervene much younger.

To me, the striking thing is the information in the graphic provided. A First World country cannot live with a large-and-growing population sub-segment that does as well as the *successes* from the Perry Preschool Program.


The cost figures are present consistent with what it cost us to send my children to preschool.



OCTOBER 23, 2006


Going Beyond Head Start

Programs that put real money into intensive preschooling pay off -- in productive workers

To stay competitive, companies need an educated workforce. That's one reason executives wince at the sorry scores U.S. students earn in international reading, science, and math rankings. The results skew especially low for children from disadvantaged homes, and some education experts conclude that the quality of the American workforce will decline as the number of such households increases.

It doesn't have to be that way. Analyzing data from a series of long-term studies, a band of scientists, educators, and economists say that aggressive preschool training for children from troubled homes yields extraordinary dividends for the families and society. Waiting until elementary school or later doesn't pay off. With an early start, "all the evidence says that we can reduce inequality, and it's economically efficient," says James J. Heckman, Nobel laureate and economist at the University of Chicago.

Some of the most persuasive data come from a 40-year, 123-child study at the High/Scope Perry Preschool Project in Ypsilanti, Mich. In 1962-67, preschool teachers worked intensively with 64 low-income African American children aged 3 to 4, both at preschool and once a week in their homes. Such efforts don't come cheap: The High/Scope program cost $10,600 per pupil, in 2005 dollars.

But 40 years later, when administrators compared the children's life stories with those of 59 people who did not receive special attention, the payoff was impressive. Almost half of the preschooled children performed at grade level by the age of 14, compared with just 15% in the control group, and 60% were earning upward of $20,000 a year in their 40s, vs. 40% in the control group. Throw in the higher number of school grades completed, lower rates of criminal activity, reduced time spent in prison, and other factors, and the benefit-to-cost ratio comes to $17 for every $1 invested. "The research is overwhelming," says Arthur J. Rolnick, director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and an enthusiastic supporter of such programs. "It all comes down to ⤗the earlier, the better.'"<snip>




CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


read book now


Friday,  October 27, 2006

We're at Richard's wedding in Santa Barbara







This week:


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Saturday, 28

Coming home





CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


read book now


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Harry Houdini, master spy?


-- Roland Dobbins

First I have heard of any of this.


Subject: Daily Diatribe

One person in the Main Stream Media has noticed the slight of hand involved in Lebanon. Remember that Hezbollah is an artifact of the Mohammedan religion. One of the chief features found in the Qur'an is that those dying fighting the infidel get a fast track to heaven. A second feature is that infidels are utterly expendable if they happen to be living in what is regarded as Mohammedan territory. James G. Zumwalt comments about this in the Washington Times.

It appears that Hezbollah remodeled homes with or without the permission of the owners. They installed a hidden object in the rooms and sealed them completely with no doors or windows. When the fighting began the contents were revealed as Hezbollah teams were dispatched to the rooms with instructions. They broke through the walls, tore off some of the roof, and fired the rockets that were prepositioned within the homes. Israel noticed this activity and marked the rooms. As the hostilities began these were targets. Often civilians living in those houses were injured or killed. And Hezbollah screamed about the civilian casualties, casualties they created by illegally stationing military equipment behind civilian human shields.

link http://www.washingtontimes.com/commentary/20061025-092622-2090r.htm 

It also appears that the Mohammedan community is pulling together in Australia around Sheik Taj al-Din al-Hilaly's hateful and misogynistic comments. And the "Multi-Culturalists" simply ignore what it means for THEIR lives. He has stated that it is perfectly expected and acceptable for a Mohammedan male faced with the "temptation" of "uncovered meat" to indulge in a little self-satisfaction and rape. And the Saudis are supporting him. Of course, this same "cleric" has also called 9/11 God's work. I think the world could do without him.

link http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=23125


In line with Mohammedan women having rights (as we might see them) they have no practical exercising consider the murder of a women's right campaigner in Iraq. She was trying to convince Iraqi women that they DID have some rights. She (very probably) died for it. Note the end of the translation of the controversial Hilaly remarks about women being the cause of their own rape. His recitation is basic misogyny. Even if the men of the United States won't try to stop Mohammedanism it's rather urgent that the women to try. We have MUCH more to lose.

link http://www.jihadwatch.org/dhimmiwatch/archives/013774.php

The Bush administration is falling far short of what it should do to combat the steady indoctrination by the Mohammedans via the web, also. By ignoring it this virulent propaganda is allowed to flourish and feed the next generation of jihadists. (And if Bush isn't doing enough what makes anybody think the Democrats, who are by in large holding Bush back as best they can, will solve the problem.)

link http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/013778.php 

The Mohammedans aren't paralyzed by indecision, political correctness, or Multi-Culturalism. Charles pointed out this has been known for some time. The twelve point plan fell into our hands in a raid of a luxurious villa in Campione, Switzerland. It really is time for us to start moving. So far this Mohammedan plan is playing out almost like clockwork.

link http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=20555&only 



Subject: Intelligence on Islamist Threats

Dr Pournelle,

Joanne Dow has, through your blog, managed to call attention to the threats to our (Western civilization) security by radical islamists. While sometimes she can sound shrill, she often rings true.

So while watching c-span for the first time in years, I managed to view an interesting speech by a Lebanese woman, Brigitte Gabriel, a Christian, who has first-hand experience with the evil nature of Hamas and other radical islamist groups.

Her organization, American Congress for Truth http://americancongressfortruth.com/  is dedicated to getting the word out about how radical militant Islam has targeted all Western Civilization for capitulation. She pointed out that in 2000 an imam in Denmark claimed that by 2050, Denmark will be an Islamic country. Her book, Because They Hate, A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America talks about how the Palestinians and other muslim groups took over Lebanon - in the 1970s, Lebanon was primarily a Christian country, but through massive breeding (she pointed out that Osama bin Ladin was one of forty children of his farther, and he has three wives...) and the influx of millions of Palestinians, Lebanon had been taken over by the PLO and other terrorist organizations.

It was an eye-opening speech. She mentioned that Hamas has active groups in forty cities in the United States. Her organization surveills mosques for hate and inciteful sermons.

Anyway, thought you might be interested...



'To avoid charges of "racism," we disciplined black and white students differently.'


- Roland Dobbins

Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for western civilization as it commits suicide. The West will give up any principle whatever in order to appear politically correct; the result is eventually no backing to the practices. On what ground is it "better" to be fair? Why is "racism" evil? Once you have thrown out the principles on which your civilization is based, there is no answer to those questions. We sow the wind.


Subject:Card's groupthink essay


I very much enjoyed Card's essay. Had I not been coming here regularly, I almost certainly would not have connected with that article. It is just another small example of why I'll be renewing my subscription when the time comes.

Perhaps it would be worthwhile if all scientists were to take a quick refresher on the scientific method. I just did this via google. Shockingly, none of the descriptions of the scientific method mentioned "peer review".

The real problem is that peer review has become the underlying control mechanism for governments and institutions to control the distribution of money. Institutionalize anything, mix in money, prestige, and careers, and you've set the stage for intellectual turf battles that may lose connection with the real world. Perhaps someone smarter than I can conceive of a better market mechanism for controlling the funding of fundamental science, something that puts empirical success above credentials and reputation.

CP, Connecticut











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